Born in a barn in 1909, Leo Fender seems an unlikely father of rock ’n’ roll. But as the man whose company perfected the solid-body electric guitar, his contribution to contemporary music cannot be overstated. Just take a look at the albums whose musicians thought enough of their Fender guitar to put it on the cover: Eric Clapton’s "Layla," Bruce Springsteen’s "Born To Run," Jeff Beck’s "Wired," The Pretenders’s (Chrissie Hynde) "Get Close," Bonnie Raitt’s "Nick of Time." The list of influential artists who play a Fender is just about endless.

Fender’s first solid-body electric guitar was introduced in 1950. It debuted as the one-pickup Esquire before the name of the two-pickup model was changed to Broadcaster. But Gretsch was already using the name Broadkaster on some of its instruments, so the name was changed again.

Between names, the company made the most of its remaining Fender Broadcaster decals by cutting off the word Broadcaster so that only the Fender brand made it onto the guitar’s headstock. Today, collectors call these guitars Nocasters. Only about 60 Nocasters were made, which makes them extremely collectible, but by April of 1951 the guitar would finally get a name that would stick, the Telecaster.

The Stratocaster came next in 1954. Unlike the Telecaster, whose ash body was outlined with rib-digging 45-degree edges, the Strat had a sculpted body that fit players like a glove. Three pickups gave the instrument unprecedented tonal range, as did a vibrato bar that would bend the guitar’s strings when pressed. And instead of the Telecaster’s blond, natural-wood finish, the Strat was offered in a number of colors, including the iconic sunburst (golden-yellow in the middle fading to black on the outside).

Solid-body electric bass guitars were also a Fender innovation. The Precision bass was introduced in 1951. It had a headstock that was virtually identical to that of the Telecaster and a body that turned out to be a preview of the 1954 Strat. By 1957, the Precision’s headstock had been redesigned to mirror the Stratocaster’s, and that version of the bass remains largely unchanged today. The Jazz Bass was added to the low-octave lineup in 1960, and a six-string bass was offered in 1961.

Fender launched two other major guitar lines in the 1950s. The first of these was a pair of low-cost models, the Duo-Sonic and the Musicmaster, both of which were introduced in 1956. These guitars were for kids who wanted to learn how to play without having to shell out the big bucks for a Stratocaster ($274.50 for a Strat versus $119.50 for a Musicmaster). The other initiative was a high-end guitar called the Jazzmaster, which retailed at the time for $329.50. It had a rosewood fingerboard on the standard maple neck, and switches that let the guitarist bounce between rhythm and lead sounds.

In 1962, Fender introduced the Jaguar, which combined a Jazzmaster body with a Stratocaster head. The Mustang, an update of the Duo-Sonic, was added in 1964. Years later, Nirvana...

But the 1960s are best known as the decade when Jimi Hendrix did things to his Stratocaster that nobody had thought possible, from setting it on fire to playing wailing, psychedelic versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Alas for Fender, it was also the decade that the company was sold to CBS—for Fender purists, the years 1965 to 1985 are like a 20-year musical drought.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vintage Guitars Info

Vintage Guitars Info

This great reference site features detailed sections for vintage guitar makers including Gibson, Fender, Martin, Gr… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Want to see all the old brochures and ads for your favorite vintage axe? Check out this great site, which showcases… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Fender Super Six Reverb Cfa 7106 Guitar Tube Amplifier 100w Rms 117v UsaStunning Original Classic 1963 Vintage Fender Stratocaster + Brown Case 1p Nores1970 Fender Twin Reverb, Factory Ab763! Jbl D120 Speakers! Original Cover Plus!1986 Fender Japan Telecaster Tl52-75 A-serial !!C. 1968 Domino Goldfoil Fender Telecaster Vintage Japanese Guitar Teisco BizarreRare! Vintage 1969 Fender Princeton Reverb Amplifier ~ Drip Edge Cabinet ~ Tone!1966 Fender Jaguar - Burgundy Mist - Owned By Smashing Pumpkins James Iha1953 Fender Telecaster With Original Thermometer CaseVintage Fender Princeton Amp Model Aa764 With Reverb And Vibro Pedals1962 Fender Reverb Unit (6g15 7963 Original Vintage)Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Guitar Amp / Amplifier 22-watt 12" Jensen SpeakerMint Fender 2005 American Deluxe Telecaster Aged Cherry Sunburst With G & G CaseRare Fender Stratocaster Body Usa 1973 Project 19741999 Fender Custom Shop P Bass Fiesta Red #cn800543 Electric Guitar Graded 10.0American Fender Stratocaster 2013 Honeyburst Nitro Satin Finish W/ Gig BagFender Road Worn '50s Stratocaster Electric Guitar W Hsc Strat '60s Case RelicFender Japan Telecaster Tl-52spl !!Fender Jazzmaster BodyFender '59 Bassman Ltd 4x10" 45-watt 2-channel Tube ComboVintage Fender Blackface Super Reverb 1967-68 Tube Amp **no Reserve**Vintage Fender Pro Reverb Amp Chassis For Parts Or Repair Amp Hobbyist 19681953 Fender Tweed Deluxe Amp 100% Original Fender Telecaster Guitar 1952 Butterscotch Natural Relic With Case & Upgrades2008 Honey Blond Fender Highway One Telecaster - Usa Guitar....excellent Shape Fender Jazz Bass Active Deluxe Series 5-string MexicanFender Super Champ "rivera" Designed First Year Production 1982! No Reserve!!!!!1969 Fender Precision Bass1965 Fender Band Master Tube Guitar Amplifier Head Blackface Ab763 #19033Vintage 1965 Fender Mustang Electric Guitar W/ Case - No Reserve & Free ShippingFender Stratocaster Electric Guitar With Humbuckers Cherry RedFender Classic Player Jazzmaster W/gigbagFender 2005 Usa Maple American Stratocaster Deluxe NeckG&l S-500 Stratocaster W / Ohsc By Leo Fender Usa Model Vintage 1994! No Reserve2008 Fender American Standard StratocasterFender Usa Custom Shop Stratocaster Neck American Classic Signed Bb King StratFender American Special Telecaster 3 Tone Sunburst Tele 3ts Maple NeckFender 2014 Usa Honey Burst American Special Hand Stained Stratocaster Body2010 Fender Standard Telecaster Butterscotch BlondeVintage Fender Deluxe Reverb Tube Amp Ab763 Fullerton, Ca - For RepairFender Bass-man Bass AmplifierFender Mim Strat Stratocaster Maple Neck 1972 Fender Telecaster Blonde W/ohsc (#fee0765)Fender Artist Series Mark Knopfler Stratocaster Red Early Low Serial # Fender Super Champ Xd BlondeVintage 1976 Fender Mustang Bass Guitar UsaFender Stratocaster W/gold Lace Sensor PickupsFender Telecaster Guitar Body Orange Tele Loaded Pickups ElectronicsFender Telecaster American Standard Light Ash Body - Crimson1966 Fender Jazz Bass Sunburst All Original 1975-1976 Fender Telecaster Custom Natural AshVintage Fender Deluxe Tube Amp Ab763 Fullerton, Ca - For Repair1965 Fender Bandmaster Blackface 2x12 Amp Speaker Cabinet #19034Fender American Standard Satin Nitro Stratocaster Electric GuitarFender Blues Junior 15w Electric Guitar Tube Combo Amplifier AmpFender 2003 Usa Rosewood American Telecaster Neck1989 Fender American Standard Stratocaster White Usa Strat With CaseFender Vibro ChampFender Pawn Shop Super-sonic Electric Guitar Red Apple Flake Rosewood Fretboard2012 Fender Fsr P/j Bass Seafoam Green 1 0f 500 Made.maple Neck W/block Inlays. Gmw Kramer Fender Custom Frankenstein Frankenstrat Stratocaster Strat Body

Recent News: Fender Guitars

Source: Google News

The guitar hero in the room
The Nation, August 29th

The Eagle's "Hotel California" came through with outstanding detail in all the instruments, including the finer percussion. "The Best of Sting 2011" was revealed to contain lower elements in the British singer's famously high-pitched singing and his...Read more

Mapping the Music, Style, and Gateway Feminism of '10 Things I Hate About You'
Noisey (blog), August 28th

You could kiss cute boys in fictional paintball settings, gain early acceptance into Sarah Lawrence, and make your Fender Strat dreams come true. Or, install car radios—either or. But first things ... #vintage) The abundance of Letters to Cleo...Read more

Providence Red Rock ROD-1 Overdrive Review
Premier Guitar, August 28th

While Providence has produced a wide variety of well-built effects over the years, overdrives are the company's strength. And the new Red Rock OD ROD-1—an overdrive specifically designed for single-coil guitars—is yet another brick in that foundation...Read more

Guitar thieves left most valuable instrument behind
Brisbane Times, August 27th

"It's a beautiful old Fender; I've seen Slim playing it on videos," he said. Mr French, a country music aficionado who cites Dusty as his favourite artist, turned to guitar playing six years ago as a way to cope with the death of his wife. The 81-year...Read more

Fender Limited & Special Edition Guitars
Sonic State, August 26th

In addition, Fender introduces two brilliant new limited edition looks for the American Standard Stratocaster--Vintage White with a tortoiseshell pickguard and rosewood fingerboard, and Aztec Gold with a parchment pickguard and maple fingerboard. All...Read more

Marshall 1958X 18-Watt Review
Premier Guitar, August 26th

These amps sound and feel like Marshalls (even though Marshall's design “borrowed” from the earlier Watkins Dominator circuit, just as Marshall's earlier models cribbed from the Fender Bassman). This exceedingly dynamic circuit is perfect for players...Read more

Vintage Vault: 1965 Gibson Firebird III
Premier Guitar, August 25th

In 1962 Gibson president Ted McCarty decided that a bold new guitar was needed to compete with Fender's popular Jazzmaster. For a fresh, all-new concept, McCarty sought outside help and hired well-known automobile designer Ray Dietrich. After 50 ...Read more

Eric Clapton's $1 Million 'Blackie' Guitar Moves to Times Square
Businessweek, August 6th

7, and also features a “boutique” pedal shop, a team of craftsmen who will build you a custom Fender instrument, and 28,000 square feet of guitars, drums, keyboards, and DJ gear. Guitar Center purchased Blackie at a Christie's auction 10 years ago for...Read more